root cause rescue remedy
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
I want to express my gratitude for the gut loving fun we’ve had together through the dog days of summer. We’ve traversed the twists and turns of the small intestine with one ingredient after another for weeks now, exploring my favorite superfoods for remedy related to this critical root (your gut!)
Today’s no different as I have a new ingredient to reveal…
This week’s summer lovin’ ingredient gets right to the root of it:
and it might just cure your coffee cravings
You might not know it but you’ve likely already eaten chicory root a time or two. Chicory contains inulin which is often used in the food industry to create a smooth and creamy texture in processed foods (think yogurt, ice cream, salad dressings and the like).
But wait… don’t let the words “processed foods” send you screaming. You know full well I’m not suggesting that will do your body good! It’s a food additive sometimes, yes, but it’s not all bad. In fact, chicory can be quite good for you and your microbiome.
And, if you’ve ever tried to kick your coffee habit and enjoyed coffee alternatives like Teechino or Dandy Blend, chicory root is a key ingredient in those blends.
In fact, chicory root has been used throughout history as a coffee substitute (find out how to make your own to complement or kick that morning cup of joe with my favorite recipe below).
There’s one other reason you might know chicory.
Ever eaten endive? It’s that elegant edible that’s so delicate it’s sometimes wrapped in paper at the market. They’re one in the same! Those dainty leaves are what you’ll find above ground while, surprise, the gnarly chicory root is below ground.
But let’s get back to why chicory root is our gut lovin’ ingredient of the day and why both you and I will be grateful that it is.
The gut lovin’ super powers of chicory are all about the inulin.
This soluble fiber (yup, it’s the “f” word again!) is a prebiotic food. This means that it’s not food for you, per say, but instead food for your good gut bacteria (which ultimately makes it good for you!).
When you feed the good bacteria in your gut the food they need, they produce by-products called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
Research shows that increased SCFA’s help reduce the risk of colon cancer and may help manage the symptoms of IBD and IBS. (Take note, when we run stool assessments for clients working with us in Counseling Services, a common occurrence is low SCFAs and most of us likely need more!).
Inulin is also liver loving in that it increases the flow of bile which helps break down fats more quickly and efficiently. As with our other soluble fiber favorites, it helps bulk stool and relieves constipation. (Sigh of gratitude.)
There’s also some research supporting chicory root’s ability to destroy harmful organisms like fungus and bacteria.
Other plants like onions, asparagus, bananas, onions, and garlic also have inulin (so eat those too!) but Jerusalem artichokes and chicory contain the highest concentrations of this precious prebiotic.
Before you go crazy with chicory, take note that it’s often called “the stealth fiber”. It doesn’t have the taste or texture of other fiber and it can be easy to consume too much leading to digestive distress like gas, bloating, and cramps.
This is mostly a concern with those processed foods I mentioned at the start but a worthy consideration for coffee alternatives, even the homemade variety. As always, you’ll want to start low and go slow.
Last but not least, chicory root is related to ragweed, marigolds, and daisies. If you have a known allergy to these plants, you may react to this root so use caution if you try it, or check with your doctor before getting ready with this root.
your gut lovin’ homework?
Check out chicory root! Whether you bring it in because it’s food for your microbiome or you’re just craving a cuppa without the caffeine, this root is worth digging up.
I’ve got two favorite chicory recipes below that are sure to please whether you’re ready to warm up or need to keep cool.
Life-Changing Chicory Coffee
This recipe is from Caroline, a lead nutritionist in Counseling Services. While I won’t promise this is a perfect replication of your morning cup of coffee, chicory root paired with dandelion creates a close comparison.
Shhh…don’t tell ‘joe’ but you just might like it more. I find it has the bitter taste we often crave from coffee but with more sweet undertones. The carob chips or cocoa nibs are most definitely optional here but they do make this mug even more magnificent!
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp roasted chicory root
- 1 Tbsp roasted dandelion root
- 1 tsp roasted carob chips or cacao nibs, optional
- sprinkle of cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
- full fat coconut milk
- stevia or honey, to taste
Place water, chicory root, dandelion root, carob chips, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 5 -7 minutes.
Pour the liquid through a mesh strainer into a jar or cups and serve with coconut milk and sweetener of choice.
You can compost the roots or make a second a brew. It won’t be as strong but will still pack a punch. You can also make a larger batch, store it in the fridge in a mason jar and and re-heat it whenever you’re ready for that cup of warming goodness.
Gut Lovin’ Chicory Chiller
Break out your blender and whip up this gut lovin’ sweet treat during these sweltering summer days.
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
- 4 cups water
- 4 Tbsp roasted chicory root
- 4 Tbsp roasted dandelion root
- 2-4 drops liquid stevia
- dash of vanilla extract
- 5-20 ice cubes
- raw unsweetened cacao nibs, optional
- ground cinnamon, optional
- whipped coconut cream, optional (recipe below)
Heat water, chicory, and dandelion root in a small pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain and refrigerate for an hour or two (or even better, pour into an ice-cube tray and freeze overnight).
Open your can of coconut milk and drain off the water. Add the coconut cream to your blender. Add stevia, vanilla, ice cubes, and your brewed chicory and dandelion “coffee”.
If you made ice cubes from your “coffee”, omit the additional ice cubes and add a little water to help it blend.
Blend until frothy, adding more liquid when necessary. Add cacao nibs if desired. Serve in a chilled glass and top with whipped coconut cream (below) and ground cinnamon. Serves 2
Whipped Coconut Cream
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled (again, only use the cream and save the coconut water for later)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-4 drops liquid stevia
Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer, beat all ingredients together or blend in a food processor or blender until fluffy (like whipped cream!)
As always, remember that we’re each unique and we all respond differently to new ingredients. While introducing more prebiotics to your diet, be sure to start low and go slow. If you have a delicate GI and have any concerns, please consult your dedicated healthcare provider.
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